Berisha decides the Melbourne derby
First-half goals from Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Kosta Barbarouses were cancelled out by fine finishes from Bruno Fornaroli and Stefan Mauk in a three minute second-half burst to set up a grand stand finish in front of 40,217 fans at Etihad Stadium.
Both sides had chances in a frenetic end to the game but Berisha added to his derby goal tally to leave City fans stunned after some smart substitutions from coach John van’t Schip orchestrated a comeback.
Michael Zullo was drafted in for his first appearance for Melbourne City, while 18-year-old Thomas Deng made his starting debut, replacing the suspended Leigh Broxham in Victory’s central defence.
Some early ill-discipline from City saw them repeatedly penalised in dangerous areas but Victory were unable to profit from the delivery of dead-ball specialist Gui Finkler.
Victory would go on to take the lead midway through the half when Ben Khalfalla was fortunate to see his shot find the back of the net.
Barbarouses doubled the advantage after the break but a first goal to City’s Uruguay striker and returning Olyoo Mauk got them back in the match.
However as so often has been the case in recent Melbourne derbies Berisha had the final say.
WHAT THEY SAID
"I know when I work hard and keep believing I will score my goal and it was a very important goal."
"City came really strong in the second half. We made a couple of mistakes, we should definitely do better. It should never happen to us after being 2-0 up.
"It’s a derby, anything can happen. Credit to City for their fight but I’m really happy in the end that we scored the goal." - Victory striker Besart Berisha told Fox Sports
"Especially in the second half there were periods where we were on top. It’s just disappointing to cop a goal in the last couple of minutes, Etihad (Stadium) is not a good place for us at the moment." - City captain Patrick Kisnorbo told Fox Sports
1 - 0 Fahid Ben Khalfallah (23’) – Besart Berisha received the ball in the box with his back to goal and played a pass across the 18-yard line that was latched onto by Ben Khalfalla. The midfielder’s shot took a wicked deflection off Paulo Retre, leaving Sorenson stranded as the ball nestled rolled into net at the Bourke Street end.
2-0 Kosta Barbarouses (57’) – Ben Fahid Ben Khalfalla was given too much space on the edge of the box floating in a cross to the back stick. Kosta Barbarouses showed good strength to win the header, beating Sorensen at his near post from inside the six-yard box.
2-1 Bruno Fornaroli (68’) – Defender Patrick Kisnorbo went on a foray forward, finding himself on the ball at the top of the box. The skipper played a neat pass to the feet of Fornaroli who spun around his defender with a deft touch and poked the ball home.
2-2 Stefan Mauk (71’) Victory’s defence switched off in midfield with Aaron Mooy switching play with a pin-point long ball to Mauk. The midfielder, who’d only been on the field 10 minutes, powered onto the ball, taking a touch before threading the ball through Danny Vukovic.
3-2 Besart Berisha (90’) Substitute Connor Pain went on darting run down the flank, whipping in a dangerous ball across the face of goal. Sorensen could only parry away the danger with the ball falling kindly to Berisha who was able to roll it into an empty net.
The home side has now taken out the last six Melbourne derbies, with City’s record at Etihad Stadium now just one win from nine games.
Besart Berisha goal stretches his run of scoring in home derbies to four games, netting six goals.
With the match barely 90 seconds old Besart Berisha was played through on goal with a defence splitting pass. Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen was swiftly off his line, smothering Berisha’s shot with his body from outside the box to defuse the danger.
With City needing some inspiration still down a goal Socceroo Aaron Mooy produced a world-class ball to pick out Mauk, which got his side back in the game. Unfortunately it proved to be in vein.
THE FINAL WORD
After a nervous opening half the game lit up after the break. The match seemed to have an inevitability about the result when Victory went two goals up but City showed a fighting spirit that was missing from this fixture last season. They’ll be bitterly disappointed to come away empty handed but can take solace in the fact they pushed the reigning Champions till the death on their home patch.
Melbourne Victory: Vukovic(g/k), Deng, Murnane, Delpierre, Georgievski, Finkler (Makarounas 92'), Bozanic, Valeri(c) (Mahazi 87'), Barbarouses (Pain 80'), Ben Khalfallah, Berisha
Melbourne City: Sorensen(g/k), Kisnorbo(c), Clisby, Chapman, Retre, Koren (Mauk 58’), Paartalu, Mooy, Zullo (Kuzmanovski 46’), Dekker (Espindola 61’) , Fornaroli
Scorers: Ben Khalfallah (23’), Kosta Barbarouses (57’), Fornaroli (68'), Mauk (71'), Berisha (90')
Yellow cards: Dekker (11’),
Conditions: 15°C, clear
Attendance: 40,217 @ Etihad Stadium